Although ultimately short-lived, Executive Producer Steven Spielbergís anthology series AMAZING STORIES has maintained a cult following even twenty years after its debut. As an anthology series, AMAZING STORIES has no basic premise, but as the title suggests each episode offers its own fantastic tall tale outside the realm of the normal. Also with Steven Spielbergís pedigree on the series, AMAZING STORIES attracted a lot of big name talent both in front of and behind the camera. Season oneís featured directors include: Brad Bird, Steven Spielberg, Peter Hyams, Burt Reynolds, Bob Clark, Clint Eastwood, Joe Dante, Martin Scorsese, Paul Bartel, Irvin Kershner and Timothy Hutton.
AMAZING STORIES: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON ($50) comes to DVD in a four-disc set that features all twenty-four episodes that were aired in the series first year. The twenty-four featured episodes are as follows: Ghost Train, The Main Attraction, Alamo Jobe, Mummy, Daddy, The Mission, The Amazing Falsworth, Fine Tuning, Mr. Magic, Guilt Trip, Remote Control Man, Santa '85, Vanessa In The Garden, The Sitter, No Day At The Beach, One For The Road, Gather Ye Acorns, Boo!, Dorothy And Ben, Mirror, Mirror, Secret Cinema, Hell Toupee, The Doll, One For The Books and Grandpa's Ghost. My personal favorite from season one is the hilarious Mummy, Daddy, which relays the misadventures of an expectant father and actor, who leaves the movie set in full mummy costume, when his wife goes into labor.
Actors making appearances during season one of AMAZING STORIES include: Roberts Blossom, Lukas Haas, Tom Harrison, Bronson Pinchot, Brion James, Kevin Costner, Kiefer Sutherland, Gregory Hines, Richard Masur, Matthew Laborteaux, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Michael DeLuise, Dom DeLuise, Loni Anderson, Charles Durning, Gordon Jump, Abbe Lane, Charles Nelson Reilly, Fritz Feld, John Fiedler, Dirk Benedict, Barbara Billingsley, Gary Coleman, Leann Hunley, Jim Lange, Ed McMahon, Clara Peller, Richard Simmons, LaWanda Page, Kristian Alfonso, Pat Hingle, Harvey Keitel, Sondra Locke, Beau Bridges, Seth Green, Mabel King, Charlie Sheen, James Cromwell, Geoffrey Lewis, Joe Pantoliano, Royal Dano, Forest Whitaker, Mark Hamill, David Rappaport, Eddie Bracken, Evelyn Keyes, Bruce Davison, Andrea Marcovicci, Robert Picardo, Joe Seneca, Lane Smith, Joe Regalbuto, Sam Waterston, Helen Shaver, Dick Cavett, Tim Robbins, Eve Arden, Paul Bartel, Griffin Dunne, Mary Woronov, John Lithgow, Joyce Van Patten, Andrew McCarthy, Ian Wolfe.
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made all twenty-four that comprise AMAZING STORIES: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON available on DVD in the proper full screen aspect ratios of their original television broadcasts. The episodes look quite nice on DVD and the picture quality is pretty much what one would expect from a twenty year old, film based television series. The levels of sharpness and detail are pretty solid, but are not going to blow anyone away. Colors appear fairly vibrant and remain completely stable. Blacks are accurate, as are the whites. Contrast is good for a television production of this vintage. The film elements display some blemishes and scratches, but they arenít particularly bothersome. Digital compression artifacts maintain a low profile.
All of the episodes that comprise AMAZING STORIES: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON have had their soundtracks upgraded to full Dolby Digital 5.1 channel status. Although now in 5.1, the television origins of these soundtracks are quite evident. Channel separations are decent, but none of the soundtracks have much of a "wiz bang" quality. The forward soundstage tends to dominate, with the surrounds providing a bit of ambient sound, occasional active effects and some musical fill. On the plus side, the episodes are well recorded, and are cleanly reproduced and offer very good fidelity. Dialogue is always clean and easy to understand. No other language tracks have been included on the DVD, but English subtitles are provided.
Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVD's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard episode selection and set up features, as well as Deleted Scenes, which are offered for various episodes.
AMAZING STORIES was a short-lived series from Executive Producer Steven Spielberg that remains fondly remembered by its fans. Universalís release looks and sounds good and is certain to please its intended audience. If you tuned in every week back in the eighties, then youíll want to add AMAZING STORIES: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON to your personal library. Recommended.
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